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"Culture is the heritage of us all. some may be more interested than others in the treasures of the past, but no one can fail to take a pride in his country's participation in the story of mankind, as represented in carvings, sculpture, music, paintings and the other arts. And there is a personal commitment to this, for no man can really say he is alone: we are all joined through our identity, with the cultures which are part of the mainstream of life"
- Simon Kapwepwe, Zambian Independence Freedom Fighter

"Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm" - Winston Churchill

"Try to be the rainbow in someone else's cloud" - Maya Angelou

"Your time is limited so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinion drown out your inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition" - Steve Jobs

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Zed Fusion: An Afropolitan's Foray Into Cooking

This post was originally posted on The African Muse.

tute. kalembula. kandolo. umumbu. intungulu. mbalala. amataba. chinkombwe.
some of these fruits of the earth have english names; some do not. they are the foods that nourished my ancestors. the foods that provide essential and irreplaceable sustenance for my body. and they feed my afropolitan spirit, too--allowing me to blend zambian cuisine with flavours from my favorite global haunts into something new.
i come from the land of the great zambezi river that flows into the victoria falls, shaping the zambian diet into one predominated by fish, or insabi, combined with nshima--a staple food made from maize and cassava flour--and an abundance of vegetables. these foods are healthy, tasty, varied. yet when most people think about african creativity, they rarely mention the most basic of arts: cooking.

my mother's recent trip to the village brought riches from the earth--fresh produce, that inspired me to experiment in the kitchen, marrying traditional ingredients with global flavours.  it also reawakened the amateur photographer in me.


avocado, intungulu, umumbu and coriander salad

half a large avocado
2 intungulu roughly quartered (can substitute texture and flavour with lemon flesh and ground black pepper)
chopped coriander (or cilantro)
                                                       4 chopped umumbu (or jicama)
                                                       ripped iceberg lettuce
                                                       vinaigrette/ lemon dressing                                                                                                        

traditionally cooked beans, local variant of chinese cabbage, sweetcorn and carrot soup
a half pot of cooked kidney beans
6 diced carrots
two handfuls of sweetcorn
1 zambian chinese cabbage (or half a traditional chinese cabbage; 2-3 bok choy; or a small green or red cabbage)
chopped spring onion
chopped tomato
salt, ground black pepper, dried herbs (sage, thyme, basil, oregano, marjoram)

soak small kidney beans overnight and cook for about an hour. fry onion and tomato in a pan and season. add chicken or vegetable stock, onion and tomato to pot and simmer till sauce thickens. fry off carrots till caramelised, add onion, tomato, sweet corn and pre-cooked beans. season and simmer to desired thickness.

thai kariba bream (tilapia) and chinkombwe

1 whole tilapia, scored
2 tsp sesame oil
lemon juice
fish sauce
salt, ground pepper, coriander (cilantro), dried sweet basil, crushed garlic and ginger

chopped handful of chinkombwe (okra)
salt, ground black pepper

dress fish with ingredients on each side (1tsp of oil per side) and its belly and wrap in foil. bake in pre-heated 180°C (350°F) oven for 45 minutes.

fry okra until crispy. add onion and tomato and season.

intungulu juice

a basketful of intungulu
lime juice
dark brown sugar

peel intungulu and place seeded flesh in a blender or food processor. add lime juice to desired tartness, and brown sugar until a little sweeter than you would like. add water to thin juice and balance the sugar. sieve and add seeds and pulp or leave clear. (if you don't have the fruit, use lemon juice to add a similar flavour and add ground black pepper as a substitute for the seeds.)

this juice may remind you of your youth playing with brown water trapped in a pothole, making a home for tadpoles during the rainy season, but i promise you it's tasty.

Check out The African Muse for more great posts by other bloggers.


  1. Pure excellence, my Sister. A shame that I can't find any of those fruits where I am located. When I go Home next time I promised myself I'd take a deeper foray into the fruits and veg are eaten in our area, and not just the same old dishes.

    Stay blessed, black and beautiful.

    - Chimaobi

  2. Ah you have made me hungry. The food all looks so delicious and is superbly presented. Interesting point about our cuisine not being one of the cultural attributes we are renowned for. Could it be because it (at least in the case of some west african cuisine) doesn't appeal to the western taste buds? And it's funny that in Nigeria for example, we haven't got African restaurants showcasing non-Nigerian food (the best you'll find is some fusion here and there, but you won't find an ethiopian or an ivoirien restaurant)...i guess it's just not what africans who come to nigeria want to do. Is that similar in zed?

  3. Thanks for the love!
    @ Chimaobi please explore you culture and creativity through cooking and would love to see you creations @Mwana Ba Afrika on Facebook!

    @Afrobeat. We have a lot of Zed and South African cuisine and there is an Ethiopian restaurant. Otherwise its the eastern european and asia diasporic cuisine that is more prevalent. Restaurants are badly advertised so I will look harder and let you know :)

  4. It is very important for us to explore more in the area of indigenous fruits in order to disseminate information about their possible domestication.

    But I still want to know the botanical name for 'intungulu'. This is a seasonal fruit, commonly found in high rainfall region of Zambia (Agro-Ecological Region III)

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